AsianScientist (May 31, 2016) – Researchers in China have identified a set of eight immune system genes that may play a role in how long people can live after developing a common type of brain cancer. The research was published in Neurology.
People with fast-growing glioblastoma multiforme, or tumor of the glial cells in the brain, live an average of less than two years, even after treatment with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
“We’ve had luck with other types of cancer in removing the brakes on the immune system to allow it to fight the tumors, but this has not been the case with glioblastoma,” said study author Dr. Wu Anhua of the First Hospital of China Medical University in Shenyang, China.
“If our discovery of these genes is validated in other studies, we could use this ‘gene signature’ to determine the best treatments or path of treatment.”
For the study, researchers investigated tissue samples from 297 people with brain tumors. Of these, 127 had glioblastoma and 170 had a lower grade glioma, which is also a tumor of glial cells, but less aggressive than glioblastoma. Researchers analyzed the 322 immune-related genes through genome sequencing.
Of the 322 genes analyzed, eight genes played a role in glioblastoma. Three of the genes were protective against glioblastoma, while five increased the risk of earlier death. An eight-gene-based risk signature was established for risk stratification: people who were identified as high-risk cases were more likely to die earlier than people with low risk. The eight-gene signature was also compatible for people with lower grade glioma.
People in the high-risk group lived an average of 348 days after diagnosis, compared to 493 days for the low-risk group. They also were nearly twice as likely to have a shorter length of time between diagnosis and the first sign that the tumor was getting worse. The high-risk group had 242 days before the disease got worse, compared to 369 days for the low-risk group.
The results were the same after researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect how long people lived, such as what type of treatment they received. Analysis of an independent database of 536 glioblastoma samples also showed up the same signature of eight genes.
The article can be found at: Cheng et al. (2016) Bioinformatic Profiling Identifies an Immune-Related Risk Signature for Glioblastoma.
Source: American Academy of Neurology; Photo: Shutterstock.
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